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Superintendent Bruce Harter should be fired !!

Posted by xaviervir on March 15, 2015

This editorial comes from today’s West County Times:

Contra Costa Times editorial: Fire West Contra Costa school Superintendent Bruce Harter
Contra Costa Times editorial © 2015 Bay Area News Group
POSTED: 03/14/2015 04:00:00 PM PDT10 COMMENTS
As the veil lifts slightly on West Contra Costa’s $1.6 billion school construction bond program, the extent of mismanagement becomes apparent.

The person at the helm during years of uncontrolled spending, Superintendent Bruce Harter, should resign. If he doesn’t, the school board should take the more costly, but necessary, step under his sweetheart contract: Fire him.

In a district with major pockets of poverty, property owners pay the highest school bond tax rates in the East Bay to fund a construction program larger than any district except Los Angeles and San Diego.

In 2010, Harter and then-Trustee Charles Ramsey, seeking support for the district’s fifth bond measure in 12 years, assured that it would provide the money needed to complete the massive rebuilding project.

Yet the district pushed through a sixth measure in 2012 and tried unsuccessfully for a seventh in 2014. Voters rejected the latter after Associate Superintendent Bill Fay acknowledged there were no cost controls.

For telling the truth, he was pushed out, although paid to keep silent. The district agreed to keep him on payroll until September 2015 if he said nothing disparaging.

His replacement, Lisa LeBlanc, just a few months on the job, has been refreshingly transparent. Her message: There’s not enough money to finish all the construction promised. Criteria are needed for selecting the schools that will get the remaining funds, she says, stating what should have been obvious years ago.


There are no criteria because Harter and Ramsey made promises without planning how to fulfill them. Instead, they assumed they could keep seeking more tax increases — and continue deceiving voters each time about the construction program’s total cost.

To be sure, Harter had to deal with Ramsey, a micromanaging trustee who thankfully gave up his seat last year to run unsuccessfully for Richmond City Council.

Nevertheless, Harter had a professional responsibility to mind the purse, to provide the school board, the bond oversight committee and the public with meaningful analyses of the spending. Instead, Harter and his staff stonewalled.

Extracting basic information such as square footage construction costs is nearly impossible. A 2013 audit dinged the district for disproportionately spending on architectural, engineering and management costs rather than direct construction. Poor advance planning and excessive changes drove up those “soft” costs.

Several recipients of that money have contributed big sums to the bond campaigns and trustees’ political campaigns. And the trustees have continued to renew Harter’s outrageous contract, which contains an 18-month severance provision.

We expect to eventually learn if any of this crossed a legal line because the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating.

Legal or not, the district under Harter’s leadership has flunked the fiscal responsibility and transparency tests. It’s time for new leadership.


One Response to “Superintendent Bruce Harter should be fired !!”

  1. Thanks for posting this, Xavier…WCCUSD has been a money pit for so long I can’t remember anything else…and how
    about the poor kid being knocked out cold at a West County school and the District doing nothing for weeks’ to remove
    the offender? Our poor kids are the pawns in an evil Satanic game…

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